Week 12 – Make Your Home Among Strangers

Straight from the get-go, a theme that I saw that persisted throughout the book was Lizet’s identity. She was constantly facing this question of, “where is home,” and, “who am I,” as she navigated her life at school and back “home” in Miami. She was too Cuban at school, and not Cuban enough in Miami. When she first came home from college to when her relatives were all talking about the way she looked, I felt that she was trying to decide whether or not she still fit the mold that she did before her experiences. I also feel like Lizet was experiencing imposter syndrome; she was doubting her ability to be at Rawlings College because she wasn’t doing well at chemistry and she accidentally plagiarized. She was othered by her own roommate when she was called, “my Cuban roommate,” instead of by her name. When Lizet met with the academic integrity committee, I felt like their reactions emphasized what she was already feeling… was she deserving of a spot at that school? Each visit that Lizet made back to Miami made her feel further and further removed from the life that she lived prior to going to college, which is understandable. Even for me, a student moving to school an hour away from home, it’s weird going back, so I cannot imagine this distance and difference in culture that Lizet was immersed in.

This book reenforced the main idea of many of the books that we have read over this past semester: home is a space that may not be comfortable and may be with strangers, but it’s home. This idea of assimilation that was noted in this book is one that has been proven to not fully exist. Despite that, families still try to assimilate or resist assimilation. In Lizet’s case, she experienced people telling her to do both, leading her to be fairly confused in where she stood as a person from an immigrant family, but also a woman in higher education.

Completely interwoven with this theme of finding identity was the devastation that sometimes goes hand-in-hand with immigration. Especially from an island like Cuba being so close to the U.S., I feel like more chances were taken by those wanting to come to the United States. In this case, Ariel Hernandez was a young child who arrived on a boat and throughout the story was finding a space in the new world he was living in.

(this is an article that I found where the author talks about the process and thought behind this book!)

5 thoughts on “Week 12 – Make Your Home Among Strangers

  1. I would also say her imposter syndrome was exacerbated by the fact that one of her opening experience on Rawlings was an assembly which stated that she less likely to succeed at the college on account of her race. From then, we see her question her academic capabilities and the motives of all her professors. She doubts any of her achievements are on account of her own academic excellence, and instead assumes that she is just being viewed as a charity case minority who needed to be kept around for the sake of the college’s reputation. This was most evident when she ascribed her B minuses to the pity of her professors. She had to actively remind herself that exams were graded anonymously, so the professors would not have been able to pity her even if they wanted to. She again reveals this doubt when she is offered her summer internship. She asked her professor if the program was a special program for minority students. She was stuck throughout her university experience believing that she was not good enough because she was not white.

  2. Also adding to the fact that she always felt out of place was that people would constantly ask her where she was from, and when she said Miami, they would repeat the question even though she was born in the United States. As well people like Jullian always referred to her as the “Cuban friend,” which is another thing that made her feel out of place.

  3. Lizet’s struggle with identity seems to be one of her biggest obstacles and we can see how it affects all aspects of her life. She tries to assimilate to college life and to a lesser extent white American culture but she never feels like she properly assimilated she is still othered by her peers and even her school, and she cannot talk about these experiences with her family because they haven’t gone through anything similar and is even treated as an other herself because she has changed in some ways. In many ways, Lizet’s experience as a member of an immigrant family and attempting to assimilate is like many others as there is no way to completely assimilate and most do not want to be removed from their culture. As a result,
    many immigrant families have to deal with people who don’t like them because they don’t share the same culture.
    I agree that Lizet probably has imposter syndrome but I don’t think it completely stems from her own doubts. Rawlings as an institution implies constantly that she will rise above her origins implying that where she came from was not good, and they specifically group people of color together for a discussion about the higher percentage of people of color dropping out. While likely not malicious these things can breed doubt in students who should not feel that way about themselves or have it linked to their origin or race.

  4. Relating this back to Dr. Moon’s comment about the Georgia Southern incident I think that the way that you interpreted this text is the way that this was meant to be interpreted along with the general sentiment always states by Crucet. It is just asking others to acknowledge the struggles faced by immigrant communities and the inequalities is the first step asked of Crucet in her speech at Georgia Southern.

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